Two things consistently stand out for me about Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.
First, the stepped-into-Oz themed land is so wonderfully immersive I always have to remind myself Anaheim is just behind the enveloping Cadillac Range.
Second, the chock-a-block neon gulch exuberance of Cars Land flies in the face of every standard the famously fastidious Walt Disney set for his theme park empire.
The arrival of the first Cars Land Christmas combines both that whimsy and mayhem into a delightfully delirious twist on the traditional holiday festivities.
The charmingly creative conceit of Cars Land Christmas is that all of the holiday decorations in the Route 66-themed land were created by the automotive residents of Radiator Springs.
The resulting tacky and tawdry vehicular bric-a-brac -- cobbled into crescent wrench ornaments, air filter garland and hubcap Christmas trees -- is enough to make Uncle Walt roll over in his grave.
There's the over-the-top orange ornamentation of the honky-tonk Crazy Cone Motel, the high-voltage red, white and blue patriotism of Sarge's Surplus Hut and the snow-dusted Christmas tree built out of a pile of retread tires with a spark plug on top at Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
In fact, each of the "Cars" residents of Radiator Springs offers a unique take on the classic Christmas tree: Stacked orange traffic cones at Sally's Cozy Cone Motel, Route 66 highway sign ornaments at Lizzie's curio shop and an oil can pyramid at Flo's V8 Café.
The garland stretching across the main drag of Radiator Springs is composed of spare tires, air filters and crescent wrenches. Santa Mater poses for photos with an oversized red and white fur hat atop his passenger cab. And a snowman car named Snowy stands sentinel at the Cars Land front entrance unaffected by the seasonably warm temperatures of the Southern California winter.
Working with Pixar Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering, the Disneyland design department spent six nights installing the chaotic cacophony of holiday decorations in Cars Land -- which took twice as long to set up as expected.
The plan is to start slow and add more decorations each subsequent year in hopes of turning Cars Land Christmas into a must-see annual event. As a result, Luigi's Casa Della Tires, Ramone's House of Body Art and Radiator Springs Racers received very little yuletide attention. Future holiday seasons could see the addition of taillight poinsettias, noel-inspired Burma Shave signs and snowcaps on Cadillac Range.
This winter also marks the first holiday season for California Adventure's new Buena Vista Street main entrance -- with a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with hand-sculpted ornaments evocative of the 1920s and a Depression-era department store Santa Claus in the Elias & Company gift shop.
As always, neighboring Disneyland is decked out for the holidays as well.
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